Intermission Stories (6)

BrigGeneral Anna Mae McCabe Hays

BrigGeneral Anna Mae McCabe Hays

Brigadier General  Anna Mae Hays

Anna Mae V. McCabe Hays was born on 16 February 1920 in Buffalo, New York to parents who both were Salvation Army officers.  Religion, music and a spirit of service were guiding lights in the McCabe household.  After completing high school, Hays attended the Allentown General Hospital School of Nursing.

When approached by a representative of the 20th General Hospital, the University of PA unit, a sense of duty and patriotic fervor inspired Hays to join the Army Nurse Corps.  In January 1943, Hay’s unit proceeded to Ledo, Assam, India, 1,000 miles above Calcutta at the beginning of the famous Ledo Road, which cut through the jungles into Burma.  She remained there for 2½ years; while she was home on leave, World War II ended.

Field hospital, Korean War

Field hospital, Korean War

In the summer of 1950, Hays traveled with the 4th Field Hospital to Inchon, Korea, landing shortly after MacArthur’s invasion operation at Inchon.  During both of her combat tours in WWII and the Korean War, Hays spent part of her off-duty time assisting chaplains by playing a field pump organ for weddings and church services, often on the front lines.  After receiving enough points to leave Korea, she transferred to Tokyo, Army Hospital and spent another year there.

Her subsequent assignment was Fort Sam Houston Texas followed by three years duty at Walter Reed General Hospital.  During that time, she was assigned to be the private duty nurse for Pres. Eisenhower during his brief illness.  Hays was married in 1956, but became a widow in 1962.  After receiving her bachelor’s degree in nursing education, her next assignment Head Nurse of the Nuclear Medicine and Radioisotope Clinic at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

A return trip to Korea in 1960, she was the chief nurse of the 11th Evacuation Hospital in Pusan, then another tour at Walter Reed, then the Office of the Surgeon General as special assistant to Colonel Harper brought Hays to her selection as Assistant Chief of the Army Nurse Corps 1963-1968.  After earning her master of science in nursing degree she served as the 13th Chief of the Army Nurse Corps, 1967-1971.

Hays and Mamie Eisenhower at the promotion ceremony

Hays and Mamie Eisenhower at the promotion ceremony

On 11 June 1970, Colonel Anna Mae Hays was promoted to the grade of general and became the first woman in the United States Armed Forces to wear the insignia of a brigadier general.  The Army Chief of Staff, Gen. William Westmoreland and the Sec. of the Army, Stanley Resor officiated at the ceremony.  The Army Surgeon General, Hal B. Jennings, pinned the stars on Hays’ uniform.

At the new general’s promotion, she expressed her view that the stars “reflect[ed] the dedicated, selfless and often heroic efforts of Army nurses throughout the world since 1901 in time of peace and war.”  She then quoted Albert Einstein’s words, “I must remind myself a hundred times each day that what I am I owe to the lives of other men…and that I must exert myself in order that I may give in the same manner that I receive.” as her philosophy of service to her country.

nurseposter_2

This wonderful story was taken and condensed from the Army Nurse Corps Association.org website; originally written by Mary T. Sarnecky.

Click on images to enlarge.

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World War II update - 

Please to enlarge and read.

Courtesy of The Palm Beach Post

Courtesy of The Palm Beach Post

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Farewell Salutes - 

Jack Alexander (85) – Georgia & Palm Bch., FL; US Air Force, fighter pilotNASA_logo.svg

Aldo Becci – Vienna, VA; US Army, WWII, Transportation Corps

John F. Corrigan – Kelowna, British Columbia, RCAF, WWII, ETO, Wing Commander (Ret.) Distinguished Flying Cross

Susan Curry – Wichita, KS & D.C. – US Army, Lt. Colonel, (Ret.) 27 years

Philip Kneifl – Ft. Worth, TX; US Air Force

Arthur S. Lord – Whakatane, New Zealand; RNZAF # 405576, WWII, 14th Army, Burma720px-USN-Seabees-Insignia_svg

William Pogue – Okemah, OK; US Air Force; Korea, fighter bomber (Astronaut for NASA, 3 SkyLab missions)

William W. Smith – Biloxi, MS & San Diego, CA; US Navy, WWII & Korea

John Taylor – Levittown, NY; US Navy, WWII, Sea Bee

Ben Vasquez – Grand Prairie, TX; US Army, WWII, ETO, Battle of the Bulge

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About gpcox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on March 27, 2014, in Korean War, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 86 Comments.

  1. A great story on the career of a very noble and patriotic Lady.
    A life filled with great service throughout the military nursing system.
    Ian

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    • I was guilty myself of neglecting the women involved, I believe I still have another one in the file before we get back to WWII.
      [matter of interest - as a Vietnam vet, do you find the Korean War much different?]

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  2. Thank you so much for doing this story!!!!!
    Why yes, I was a Nurse, why do you ask?

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  3. It’s never to late too recognise the brave men and women who sacrificed so much in our name.

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  4. P.S. Poor Calebro got short-changed by almost being overlooked here after such a spectacular story!…

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  5. Another truly inspiring individual. It comes as a shock to learn that as far back as 1970 a woman had achieved General rank – and then a futher one to see that she was far from having the appearance of the sort of battleaxe one would expect.

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  6. For the times I have been in hospitals (thankfully not many) it’s the nurses not the doctors who have added a touch of humanity to the experience. Great blog, GP. She was obviously an extraordinary person. Also, in the newspaper article… 67 years of marriage. Not many can claim that. –Curt

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    • And…those are the traits of the Greastest Generation. Frankly, Curt, I don’t trust we’ll EVER see another bunch like them! Thanks for coming by.

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  7. Inspiring post!! Courage and compassion are a dynamic force for good.

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  8. Great story ! Also enjoyed the newspaper article about the gentleman as well!

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    • Thanks, Elaine. Would you believe, you are the first person to mention that article – thank you. I sometimes wonder if all of this is worth it, and then all I get is one person’s encouragement – and I’m back on track.

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  9. What a role model, what an inspiration!

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  10. As many a Marine would say, bless the corpsman. But the nurses endured so much emotional and mental trauma caring for so many wounded and dying young men. We owe a great debt to them… for all time. Great post, gpcox!

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  11. If you’d asked me, I would have said no woman ever reached that ranked. Glad you set me straight.

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  12. Thanks for sharing stories of men and women we can look up to!

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    • I think it would be fantastic if young people would pick these people as heroes and not …well, you know what I mean. (didn’t want to get on one of my usual rants there). Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to read.

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  13. What an inspiring story – another trail blazer!

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  14. What a remarkable woman and life if service. Thanks for a great post

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  15. terrific story on a terrific woman.

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  16. She became the first high ranking woman in 1970 – took a while to recognize the role of women in the military. Great post – thanks!

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  17. What an amazing woman! Thanks for sharing all these stories, GP! :)

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  18. Congratulations on another good story . This one stands out , I think , even from all of your other great posts .

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    • I’m very glad you enjoyed it, Dan. I definitely try to find ones not read everyday. But, may I ask why it stands out?

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      • First , it celebrates a woman in the military . That alone sets it apart . But this woman became a general — makes it stand out . She was active during WWII and Korea and was once nurse attending President Eisenhower . Yet , the story is written in such a manner , mentioning personal details ; that makes it a relatable life story . Here you have a tough-as-nails woman ( she had to have been ) presented in a softer way (” assisting the chaplains playing the pipe organ…”) —- rounds out the story but still without adding opinions or fluff . Nicely done .

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        • Thank you for being so specific, I know many just say ‘great job’ just to make a comment. I knew you would be truthful and explain either what I do right or wrong. Thanks, Dan.

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  19. Great, great story of the best kind o human being.

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  20. A great story–I couldn’t help but wonder if she, and my father ever crossed paths in Assam, India.

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    • Wouldn’t that be something! How could you find out, Adam?

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      • GP, I rechecked Dad’s letters discharge papers for clues. He arrived in Assam March ’43. His discharge papers mentioned contraction of Yellow Fever in 3-42 (date is incorrect). He suffered, as did others, from diseases/maladies common to the tropics. From having wet feet continuously during monsoon season, and so on. On 5-7-43 he was admitted for “trench foot” infection. From 6-12-43 to 7-10-43 he was admitted to the 73rd Evacuation Hospital for same problem as before–also treated for malaria. Another interesting note was, 5-7-43 he was on pass, hitchhiked, caught a ride with 4 nurses to Dibbrugarh (large town nearby). No definite information, but several possibilities.

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        • You have your side of the info, how are we going to get Gen. Hay’s?

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          • Is there some way to find out if she served with that Evac. hospital? I don’t know, but I’ll do some research and try to find out.

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              • GP–more info. about B. Gen. Anna Mae Hays. She served with the 20th Gen’l. Hospital at the entrance to the Ledo Rd. There she assisted in the operating room. There’s no direct link to my father. However, there’s a treasure trove of information at http://www.armyheritage,org–from there I clicked on “Soldier Stories,” under Gen. Hay’s name. “Voices of the Past,” contained an interview describing her experiences while serving in India. It was detailed–gave info. about hardships/conditions of those that served. It shed much light on what Dad and others went through over there.

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                • I am more than pleased that my article ultimately sent you off on a lead and discovered so much more information. The wars and the people involved are like putting together a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces were hit with a typhoon, eh? Understanding your father more kind of puts your own past into perspective, doesn’t it?

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                  • Yes, it does. I’m going to pass on this new information to my brothers, sister & family. I was irritated at my Dad when he always refused to go on camping outings. Now, I understand why–it took him back to all the miseries so colorfully described by BG Hays in her interview. I didn’t have the right to criticize. Only those who were there knew what they went through.

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  21. Wow. Wonderful post, wonderful story. Thank you.

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  22. What an amazing woman. Great read!

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  23. Such an amazing selfless woman and I enjoyed reading about her :)

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  24. Great post! Glad to hear about the women’s effort to the war. I’d like to pretend she’s the real “hot-lips Houlihan” of the Korean war.

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  25. A very inspiring story.
    Lillian

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  26. An interesting chapter in the on-going story of the women’s movement.

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  27. Plainly a fine lady!

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  28. Thanks for another great story. The National Archives in Boston has run several stories lately on their Facebook site about women in WWI and WWII, both in service and filling in for the missing men back here. Huge contribution by all.

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    • Yes, thank you. In response to Cindy, I realized I had been remiss in telling the stories of the women’s service. So, I’ve managed to get 2 stories in for March, but I see no reason I couldn’t post them in other months as well. I should be able to come up with another one, any suggestions?

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  29. I really enjoyed this post! What an amazing story! Meeting her would be an honor.

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  1. Pingback: Brig. General Anna Mae McCabe Hays | pacificparatrooper | VAREP

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